A teenager who was obsessed with mass shootings has been jailed for 16 years after ordering a firearm and ammunition on the dark web.
Kyle Davies, 19, regarded those behind the massacre at Columbine high school and the Norwegian extremist Anders Breivik as his heroes.
He used the cryptocurrency bitcoin to purchase a Glock 17 handgun and five rounds of ammunition from a gun dealer on the dark web, ordering it for delivery to his family home in Gloucester.
US homeland security officers intercepted the order at Newark airport in New York and tipped off Davies’ local police, who arrested him after delivering a dummy package to his home in July 2018.
Davies insisted he had purchased the gun and ammunition in order to kill himself and denied he was planning a mass shooting.
When officers searched his bedroom they discovered handwritten notes and a USB stick containing more than 1,000 pages relating to explosives and massacres.
Sentencing him at Taunton crown court, the judge Paul Cook said: “You had attempted to obtain the equipment and had the intention to endanger life in a shooting event at some point in the future.”
Cook said officers searched Davies’s home after his arrest on 20 June last year and found “disturbing and chilling” research into mass murders.
“Your interest was correctly described as an obsession,” he told Davies. The judge said the “graphic and unpalatable” material, including how-to guides on mass shootings and making explosives, ran to thousands of pages.
“You had taken practical steps as to how to put your plan into execution,” he told Davies. “You worked out your budget, which was in excess of £10,000, and you purchased the equipment to assist you in carrying out a mass killing.”
The judge said Davies’s intended location and targets remained unclear.
Peter Binder, representing Davies, said his client had been diagnosed with autism and depression. “It is speculation as to how far down the road of actually carrying out some form of shooting the defendant would have got,” Binder said.
A jury unanimously convicted Davies of attempting to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and attempting to possess the ammunition with intent to endanger life following a two-week trial at Gloucester crown court in July.
Davies was an A-level pupil planning to go to university. Until police began searching the teenager’s bedroom, they had no idea of his motive for purchasing the weapon.
Davies used software to clear browsing data each time he closed his laptop but crucially he was using it at the time of his arrest, meaning officers were able to access his online activity that day. This revealed searches for Columbine, as well as how to clean a Glock 17 and searches relating to UK firearms officers.
Police discovered a note on Davies’s bedside table entitled Götterdammerung (twilight of the gods), apparently a reference to Wagner’s opera. It listed equipment required for a mass shooting event including a gas mask, trenchcoat, gloves, boots, body armour and a leg pistol-holder as well as ingredients for explosives.
He had drawn 77 stick people to represent those murdered by Breivik in one page of a schoolbook.
The teenager previously pleaded guilty to two counts of evading the prohibition on the importation of firearms and ammunition, as well as two counts of making indecent images of children.